Can Decreix is a place to demonstrate and reflect around the topic of degrowth. Started by activist scientists from Research & Degrowth, Can Decreix is a centre for transformation (of fruits, vegetables, constructions, societies), for research, for testing frugal technologies, arts and agroecology. Situated in Cerbere, a shrinking city, on the sea-side border between France and Spain, Can Decreix is a degrowth hut and space to accept limits and question borders. It is on the border of town, thus not pretending to conquer virgin territories.
Can Decreix tries to be an open space, which is connected with its surroundings. It was created with the idea to put in practice various degrowth strategies: simplicity in living, reflection and research, organization of meetings, of political and artistic events. This involves a range of activities from the organisation of conferences and workshops, to working on practical ecology methods and organizing of hiking through the local ridges, or bicycle tours. The project strives to have minimum impact on nature, with minimum energy consumption, water recycling, solar kitchen and washing-machines without electricity. The terrain has vineyards and olive trees, situated in the typical for Languedoc-Roussillon terrace shape construction. Intention is to grow and use as many eatable wild plants as possible, as well as to develop ecological and a forest garden.
Can Decreix is also a quiet place for thinking and writing. The system of groovy tunnels, the enormous train station occupying the heart of the city and mostly used for the transit of cars and chemicals for sale, the memories of the once flourishing industry of train-based trade, could serve as additional inspiration to think of employment and transport in a degrowth context.
Not on the last place, the project will also function as a space to sharing living space for certain period of time (with volunteers being more than welcome). In practise these described ideas lead to many activities, for example around recycling of resources like the always proceeded water recycling, which means to use water from the shower and dishwashing to water the garden, while the ecological potassium soap functions as a fertilizer.
Since Can Decreix is going to be a shelter for thinking and writing and a place for seminars, workshops and conferences, one big ongoing project is the degrowing of the living areas. Degrowing stands here in contrast to renovating since the house is unbuilt to its skeleton, once made from local materials, namely stone and clay and not upgraded with new material. This skeleton is then revived with clay plaster made from local clay and local graminae as well as recycled sand from the old building materials. So the house takes shape under the work of a bunch of volunteers, sometimes as covered with clay as the walls. These local ecological building materials allow the house to “breathe”, to stay in connection with the environment and not as an impurity. The whole working progress is done with a minimum use of machines and human rather than electrical energy.
In the same time a construction out of nearby cut chestnut trees is created to provide a place for wine to climb and humans to hide from sun, wind or rain. All activities are carried out in learning by doing process and drawn by an exciting improvisation, where for example old beehives can convert to sieves for clay preparation.
While all this is happening, there is in line with a degrowth philosophy, time and space for spontaneous art, siestas and enjoyment of life.
In July 2012 the Ecotopia Biketour visited Can Decreix, more information about the Biketour can be found on its website Ecotopiabiketour.
The International meeting of Beyond our Backyards (BoB) took place at Can Decreix from September 29th to October 4th 2012. More information about the project Beyond our Backyards, the meeting at Can Decreix and options to participate can be found on the website Agroecol.
News from Can Decreix (November 2012)
The degrowing process of the lower part of Can Decreix (as described further above) is long finished and the house is in frequent use for numerous visitors and volunteers. The first big group of visitors, who could enjoy these rooms, came for the international Beyond our Backyards meeting. For a week Can Decreix was populated by over 50 agroecologists, discussing, networking and contributing to the place.
Can Decreix further attracts volunteers who are curious about degrowth and who take part in the construction and transformation work, where we for example progress in Water catchment, Solar shower and the Permaculture design for Can Decreix. Besides this people get inspired by the unconventional way of living.
In 2013 regular visiting days, for those who are curios, but cannot spend a longer time to volunteer, will be established at Can Decreix. On these days we will do a Can Decreix-tour, and offer some collective work and workshops, together with a shared convivial meal. More information will follow soon.
The recently opened museum of unneeded and questionable items is now also online and awaits your comments.
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